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The W-League Goes Worldwide


With the start of the 2020/21 W-League on the horizon, we preview the league through the eyes of two ex-W-League stars now making an impact in the WSL.

By: Lukas Zaher

While it may not carry the same prestige as the England Women’s Super League or the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States, the Australian W-League is one of the most exciting competitions in the women’s game and played a key role in developing some of today’s household names in world football. The likes of global stars like Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord both got their start in the W-League and are now integral players for their respective teams in the WSL.

Australian players make up 5% of total player minutes in the 2020/21 Women’s Super League so far, the highest proportion of any nation outside the United Kingdom and the fourth-highest of any country overall (England – 48%, Scotland – 8% and Wales – 6%). Here we hone in on two key Australian stars making their names in the WSL, and look at what lessons we can see form their clubs.

Click to enlarge each shot map

Two of Australia’s standout players are playing starring roles in the WSL. Sam Kerr (Chelsea – 7) and Caitlin Foord (Arsenal – 6) have scored the most and second-most goals respectively from big chances in the ongoing campaign.

Foord has also been a creative specialist – delivering five assists this WSL season, 3.3 more than her Expected Assists figure suggests she should have. Only her fellow Arsenal teammate Katie McCabe (5.0) has a bigger overperformance in this regard.

Kerr’s hometown team in the W-League is Perth Glory. The Glory were the queens in the 2019/20 W-League season at getting off to a quickfire start in the second-halves of games, scoring six goals during this time – more than any other side. Indeed, their 13 second-half goals overall were only bettered by Melbourne City FC (16) and Western Sydney Wanderers FC (14).

W-League 2019-20 (46th-60th Minute):

TeamGoals% of Total Goals
Perth Glory632%
Brisbane Roar FC523%
Melbourne City FC515%
Melbourne Victory312%
Sydney FC314%
Western Sydney Wanderers FC312%
Newcastle Jets217%
Canberra United18%
Adelaide United00%

Foord’s home team in the W-League is Sydney FC. One of two sides to become league champions more than twice (Melbourne City FC x4), the Sky Blues (x3) were defensive fiends in 2020. No side had a higher share of retaining possession after making a tackle (68.4%) while they also led the competition in interceptions (209) and possession won (1,073 times).

Possession Winning Tackle Rate, W-League 2019-20:

TeamGamesPossession Winning TacklesPossession Winning Tackle Rate (%)
Sydney FC1418468.4%
Canberra United1215467.3%
Melbourne City FC1416763.0%
Adelaide United1214762.8%
Brisbane Roar FC1216262.8%
Perth Glory1216160.3%
Melbourne Victory1316460.1%
Western Sydney Wanderers FC1315559.9%
Newcastle Jets1214956.9%

The defending W-League champions are Melbourne City FC. The only team in competition history to complete the Premiership-Championship ‘double’ in multiple seasons, City marched to W-League supremacy last season through their precision in the final third of the pitch – their passing accuracy in this area (72%) was more than nine percent greater than any other team in the competition. They also had a staggering 124 more touches in the opposition box than any other side in the campaign (480).

W-League 2019-20 Passing Accuracy:

TeamGamesPasses ending in Final ThirdPassing Accuracy, ending in Final Third (%)
Melbourne City FC142,47172.0%
Sydney FC141,58762.3%
Brisbane Roar FC121,68462.3%
Canberra United121,15261.0%
Western Sydney Wanderers FC131,39159.2%
Melbourne Victory131,43057.7%
Perth Glory121,15552.6%
Adelaide United121,12249.5%
Newcastle Jets1296947.3%

One W-League team that has been making waves in pre-season is Melbourne Victory with the signing of Australian national team legend Lisa De Vanna. The Matildas’ sharpshooter links up with a team that already boasts considerable firepower – Victory had the best shot conversion rate (13%) of any team in the 2019/20 W-League.

W-League 2019-20 Shot Conversion:

TeamGamesTotal ShotsShot Conversion Rate (%)
Melbourne Victory1318513.0%
Melbourne City FC1425512.9%
Perth Glory1214912.8%
Western Sydney Wanderers FC1321911.4%
Sydney FC1420610.7%
Brisbane Roar FC122389.2%
Newcastle Jets121319.2%
Adelaide United121607.5%
Canberra United121797.3%

Will another team step up to halt the Melbourne City juggernaut? Which new players will emerge, perhaps joining their Australian peers in future European adventures? These questions and many more await us this coming Sunday when the new season gets underway.

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